Dec 082008

As I wrote a couple days back, I’ve never bought a Christmas Tree before.   But yesterday was the big day: Zaira and I headed into the woods and cut down our very own Christmas tree.  It was absolutely a blast!

Neither of us has ever cut down a tree before, and Zaira’s never had a real Christmas Tree so we were both pretty excited.  We went to the Paradise Tree Farm here in Morgan Hill and (although I wasn’t overly impressed with their service) there were plenty of trees to choose from and they did supply a saw.  We took a bunch of pictures and a video of the entire tree cutting process, but the memory card in the camera apparently got corrupted in the middle of that video so not only do we not have it, but none of the transport and set-up pictures either 🙁

After a brief rundown consisting primarily of names of tree types and prices (neither of which mattered at all to me) and we headed up “cardiac hill” to the closeout section.  Zaira’s new boots (purchased for her upcoming trip to Yosemite) got well broken in while she learned to navigate along the side of a hill.  We found several good candidates before finally deciding on our tree.  Either the saw was sharper than I thought or trees are weaker than I though, because it took Zaira and I less than 15 minutes to chop down our tree.

This was immediately followed by cheers of “We killed a tree!  We killed a tree!” and the two of us victoriously heading down the hill with our conquest held above our heads.  We loaded it into Rover and brought the bad boy home where I busted out all of the brand new tree accessories I had bought Friday at Target: tree stand, skirt, lights, ornaments and a star for the top.

Our first Christmas tree now resides in the living room of The Caverns, lighting up the room, the presents, and our hearts.

Nov 242008

With gas prices reaching three-year lows and all of Rover’s major operations taken care of (transmission, heater core, electrical system, etc), as well as the lowered costs of getting sr22 insurance quotes without your vehicle, I’ve got a little extra cash to invest in the optional repairs Rover could use. For example, when I bought Rover (he’s our beloved 1989 Ford Bronco in case you’re new here) the price was a little higher than necessary because he came with factory installed air conditioning, there was no need to call the A/C repair company. Of course, more than 20 years later and the air conditioning compressor has gone the way of the dodo.  So, I went shopping for a Ford ac compressor online and was my first stop.  It’s a great site with a wonderful selection that’s easy to navigate, though the prices weren’t so hot.  Still, it’s nice to know there’s one place that will always have the parts Rover needs in stock.

Nov 182008

Okay, we weren’t actually on a road trip at the time, but we were in Rover (our car) and we were watching a movie about Africa (Madagascar: Back 2 Africa at the drive-in), so that’s kind of a road trip, right?  Anyway, it became clear to us, once again, that we seriously need a better flashlight in Rover.  Dome lights only go so far, headlights aren’t directional, and neither works should your battery go dead.

This was, at least, the third or fourth time we’ve needed a flashlight only to find Rover’s dead or dying.  No more!  I’ve just ordered a couple of Surefire Flashlights from L.A. Police Gear (whom I’ve mentioned before here on Philaahzophy). These Ni-Cad lights aren’t cheap, but they’re some of the highest rated in the business when it comes to lasting light.  The Surefire 8NX Commander has a SureFire X80 xenon gas-filled lamp assembly with 110 lumens output for 50 minutes and is made from non-conductive, corrosion-resistant Nitrolon polymer, with an impact and heat-proof Pyrex lens window .  Okay, I don’t quite know what all that means, but it sure sounds cool, doesn’t it?

No more being afraid of the dark for us or Rover 😉

Aug 032008

Two Tuesdays back Z and I headed to the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk for what we intended to be a short trip.  The plan was to drive over the hill, spend about an hour in the ocean, teaching Z to dive under waves and maybe body surf a bit, then get our annual Old Tyme photo.  I suppose I should backtrack a bit here to fill y’all in on one of our most cherished traditions…

When Z and I were reunited on June 8, 2005 after a seven year separation one of our first outings comprised of me taking her, her half-brother and their mother to the Boardwalk for the day.  As part of that experience we took an Old Tyme photo with the two of us dressed in gangster outfits from the days of Prohibition.  You can see the picture above.  The following summer we returned to the same studio at the Boardwalk and had them attempt to recreate the photo in order to show how much Z had grown.  The plan was to take one each year.  Unfortunately, due to lack of both finances and time together we skipped last summer.  But we were determined not to miss out on the photo this summer.

Okay, back to the recent trip…

We arrived in Santa Cruz, changed into bathing suits, locked all of our valuables into Rover and headed for the surf.  We were about half way there when I realized that I had forgotten to leave my glasses in the car as well.  Having worn glasses 24/7 for the last 30 years or so, it’s easy to forget that I’m wearing them.  Well, I was excited to get Z into the water, so I decided that instead of returning to Rover I would just stay in the shallows so as not to lose my glasses.  To no one’s surprise it took less than 15 minutes for me to get blind-sided by a wave and lose my glasses, leaving me legally blind.

A trip back to the car and a few phone calls found us a friend that could come drive Rover home (it’s hard to drive when you can’t see the dashboard, much less the road or other cars), but he couldn’t get there for about 10 hours due to other commitments.  So, back to the surf for a while we went followed by some time playing games and riding rides – all without my glasses.  I’ve got to say that the Boardwalk (especially at night) with 20/250 vision is an absolutely surreal experience.  The lights and noise and crowd all seem completely forum and the inability to see anyone’s facial expressions leaves one feeling completely disconnected from the near-chaos of the environment.  On the other hand, I did manage to top my previous score on Desperadoes (they’re new shooting ride/game) despite being unable to actually see the “bad guys” I was aiming at 😀

We still went by the Old Tyme Photos Studio in the main arcade and had the picture on the left taken. The crew there this year (Sarah, Carney, Alejandra, and Jose) jumped all over the idea of recreating the original photo. They all thought it was an amazing idea and quickly became far more obsessive about matching the original picture than we ever were. It was absolutely wonderful! And the results are clear when comparing the three photos. If you’ve ever admired the Old Tyme Photos I couldn’t recommend any studio more highly then the one at the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk.

The next morning we rose early and Z acted as my “seeing-eye Kitten” on a long bus journey up to Lenscrafters at Oakridge Mall.  Unable to drive or work I had little choice in where or when I purchased new glasses – I needed them now.  Z managed to find some great new frames for me while I had my eyes examined yet again and $300 later could finally see again.

Apr 232008

As I’ve mentioned, Rover (my beloved 1989 Ford Bronco) passed his smog check today. Given his age, the fact I’m not remotely a mechanic, and that he’s classified by the DMV as having a “High Emitter Profile” I seriously had my doubts. Z, on the other hand, had complete faith. Now that we know Rover won’t be stolen away by the government for the next two years we need to decide on his reward. Since Z is responsible for customization the final decision is hers, but that doesn’t mean I can’t make suggestions.

I’m rooting for custom seat covers from Lane’s Professional Car Products. If you’re not familiar with Lane’s exclusive line of professional auto-detailing products then you really need to check out their site. For the last seven years they’ve offered high end car wax, air fresheners (including new car scent!), engine cleaners, bumper protection, sunscreens, and custom dash, rear panel and seat covers.